The sun was streaming into his room through the open curtains the next time he opened his eyes. He raised sleepy eyes to the wall clock. It was 7.45am.
‘Jesus Christ!’ He jumped out of bed and looked around frantically. The little boy was not in bed. He picked up his t-shirt and ran out of his room. He followed the sound of voices to the kitchen.
Michael was finishing a cup of coco pops at the kitchen table when he walked in. He was fully dressed in his school Friday wear and his school and food bags were on the floor. He was chatting non-stop to Naomi who was just cleaning the kitchen sink.
‘Thank you, Mum. You are a lifesaver. Becky would have had my head this morning.’ He breathed a sigh of relieve.
‘You are welcome.’ Naomi grinned at him, even though her eyes were full of questions.
‘Good morning cupcake. Hope you slept well?’ Joseph bent beside the little boy.
‘Good morning, Uncle Joe. Yes, I did.’ He flung his arms around his neck in an affectionate hug. Joseph’s throat constricted. ‘I like your mummy. Can I really call her Gran?’ He whispered but Naomi heard him. She picked up her phone and took their pictures together.
‘Let me see it, gran. I love pictures.’ Michael ran over to peek at the phone. Naomi grinned as she crouched for him to see the pictures of him and Joseph.
‘It is great. It is time for school or else you will be late.’ Naomi picked up his school bag and put it on his back.
Joseph picked up his food bag and strolled out with his little hand tucked securely in his. ‘Are you taking me to school in your car, Uncle Joe?’ He was asking excitedly as he hopped beside him.
Naomi didn’t hear his response but she sighed as she stared down at the pictures.
‘Naomi, you have been sighing repeatedly and pretending to sleep. What is the problem?’ Olayemi sat up in bed and turned on the bedside lamp. He stared at her back.
‘I’m sorry for keeping you awake.’ She gave him an apologetic smile as she sat up too.
‘What is it?’ He ignored her apologies. His look turned into confusion when she picked up her phone and flipped through her gallery.
‘What does this picture says to you?’ She asked him when she gave him the phone. He stared at it in silence for several minutes.
‘I know what you are seeing but looks alone do not determine the paternity of a child.’ He began tentatively, glancing at her.
‘Really?’ She raised an eyebrow at him.
‘Well, it is part of it. Why are you worrying about it, dear? Time will take care of everything.’ He pulled her into his embrace.
‘You don’t get it, Ola mi. He is completely ignorant simply because he doesn’t believe she will keep such a thing as a secret from him. This fragile relationship will break into pieces if he finds out by chance. I’m worried about both of them.’ The worry was evidenced on her creased brow.
‘Quit worrying, Ife. There is nothing you can do about it. If they are meant to be, they will find their way to each other’s heart.’ He kissed her brow. ‘Don’t interfere either. It is none of your business.’ He warned mildly. She laughed and snuggled against him.
‘What exactly is going on, Joseph? Why have you been avoiding me?’ Barbara placed her bag in the middle of his table and glared at him with a hand on her curved hips.
Joseph sighed inaudibly. He cursed the fate that had brought him to their Lagos branch this week. That fate was his father and canny Grannie. The motor parts assembling branch of the Coker’s group of company was undergoing some internal issues. He studied mechanical engineering because he loved machines, especially cars. Olayemi was aware of this and had transferred him temporarily to the Lagos branch on automatic promotion to senior partner. The package has been too sweet to resist and his father knew it. Willy old man, he thought in weary resignation.
‘I’m sorry, sweet. I have been quite busy.’ He looked at her with a boyish grin. He had met Barbara a few weeks before the attack on his life at a conference. It had been a short sizzling affair but he enjoyed her body and mind immensely. He still admired it in the clinging grey pants trouser and white silk shirt she wore. She was a junior executive in an advertising company.
‘Hmm. What happened to your face?’ He could tell she was already forgiving him as he came to stand in front of his desk, her unique scent tantalizing his nostril.
‘I had an accident but I am fine now.’ He grinned as he got to his feet and hoisted her unto his table. Her legs curled around his waist.
‘Aw! You didn’t tell me. I would have come to visit and take care of you.’ She pouted her small lips in disapproval and he placed a kiss on it.
‘I am sorry, dear.’ He nuzzled her neck and hugged her against him.
‘Joseph, please can you go through this report for me?’ The door opened abruptly as Elizabeth strode in without knocking. She gaped in absolute shock that rapidly turned to anger. She worked as personal assistant for the operation manager of the assembling plant.
‘How can I help you, Lizzy?’ Joseph raised his head without releasing Barbara who was turned around in disapproval at the rude intrusion.
‘What the hell is going on here? Who is she by the way?’ Elizabeth threw down the report on the office table and glared at her.
‘Who are you, madam secretary? Why did you think you can barge in here without knocking?’ Barbara pushed away from Joseph and faced her squarely. Joseph looked from one to the other in absolute confusion.
‘This is my man. I knew him when he was nothing. You heard me right. Don’t you dare think you can snatch him from me when he is all clean up and rich.Get the hell away from here and don’t ever come back. You are a Useless gold digging bitch!’ Elizabeth sneered at her, shoving aggressively into her face. He groaned as he covered his face.
‘Go and tell that story to punch. It will earn you some much-needed cash. You are nothing but a low life secretary who slept her way to become personal assistant. Will you get out of here before you lose your job?’ Barbara told her scathingly.
‘Shut up! The two of you should shut up and get out of my life.’ He ordered coldly. They both turned to gape at him in disbelieve.
‘Get out or I will call the security for you two.’ He reached for the phone. Barbara hissed as she picked up her bag and strode out, almost colliding with some employees who were eavesdropping at the door.
‘Joseph, I am sorry.’ Elizabeth began as she lingered in the doorway.
‘You disappoint me, Lizzy. Get out of my office and close the door.’ He turned away from her. She looked miserable as she went back to her office.
‘I have never been so embarrassed and humiliated in my life.’ Joseph mumbled as he navigated his way out of the airport traffic.
‘You are the ladies men.’ Andrew roared with laughter at the miserable expression on his friend’s face. It was his first trip out of the country, after his honeymoon vacation, making it the second time he would be leaving the country.
Joseph groaned loudly and refused to respond to the taunt.
‘Go and get married, young man. Marriage is sweet. I am talking from experience.’ He teased as he slapped him on the back playfully.
‘Shut up. Is it because you are getting fucked regularly? I still have the advantage of sampling different pussies.’ He glared mockingly at her.
‘Different pussies come with different troubles. Stop playing around and stick to one. By the way, how is Becky’s mum?’ Andrew opened bottled water and drank deeply.
‘She is fine. She has been discharged and Michael has gone back home. I miss him dreadfully. I am suspecting mum missed him more. She kept giving me all these knowing looks. I just ignore her.’ He shrugged ruefully.
‘She needs grandchildren, Joseph. Nothing is stopping you from giving her one. That reminds me. Bella is 3 months pregnant.’ Andrew was nearly blushing as he grinned widely.
‘Congratulations, man. You are a sharpshooter. Damn, I am going to be a godfather.’ Joseph grinned as he squeezed his kneecap affectionately.
‘Thank you. I can’t wait to see and carry my baby. So what is happening between you and Becky?’ Andrew gave him a solemn look.
‘I have located that bastard husband of hers. I have also implicated him, so I am sure the U.S government police will be over him any moment from now.’ He smirked maliciously as he looked out the window. ‘I don’t know how to persuade her to serve him a divorce letter though.’ He sighed heavily.
‘I thought you said she has a friend called Rose who stayed in the U.K?’ Andrew asked quietly. He nodded as he gave him a puzzled look. ‘Try and get in touch with her. I am sure she will be happy to help out. You may have to get in touch with Lizzy for her contact though.’ Andrew suggested.
‘You are a genius, man. Getting her contact from Lizzy is easy as she is ready to do anything to get back into my good book. That girl is spoilt beyond redemption.’ He shook his head in disgust.
Andrew laughed heartily.
‘Hello, babe. How is your mum’s health?’ Roseline asked over the phone.
‘She is much better. She has resumed at the shop and it keeps her mind off issues she has no business thinking about.’ Rebecca gave a resigned sigh.
‘She will be fine. Don’t worry about it. I have good news. Alex proposed to me last night.’ Roseline held her breath as she waited for the news to penetrate her friend’s brain. Alexander stone was a friend to both Roseline and Rebecca when they were in school of medicine. He was also her colleague in North Manchester hospital where they both worked presently. They had never seen eye to eye in anything. Their relationship was more like cat and dog but Rebecca had always suspected there was an attraction brewing somewhere between the two, hidden in the constant animosity that took place between them.
Rebecca gave a loud whoop as she got to her feet and screamed with excitement. Roseline burst into a hearty laughter.
‘I know it! I said it. The two of you were always bickering like two old women. Tell me you said yes before I come over to wring your neck.’ Rebecca paused midway around the room.
‘Of course, I said yes. I love him. He is such an incurable flirt. Half of the nurses in the hospital are in love with him.’ Rebecca could almost see the pout on her friend’s face. She laughed till her side aches.
‘You are just jealous. How is it his fault that he is one gorgeous, smart and intelligent Doctor? Count yourself, lucky babe.’ Rebecca grinned as she sat down on her bed.
‘I am lucky. He is also lucky to have me. The wedding is taking place in three months time. That will give you enough time to get your ass over here. You are my maid of honor.’ Roseline enthused over the phone. Rebecca was silent for a while.
‘Rose, you know I will love to be there but I can’t just afford it. I wish I can.’ She said sadly. Roseline laughed softly.
‘Do you have a valid passport? If you don’t, go and renew your passport. Get Michael a passport too because I need to meet that young man before he is overgrown. Leave every other thing to me, I will sort it out.’ She grinned mysteriously.
‘Roseline, are you high on love or something? Do you know how much it will cost to get us to the U.K?’ Rebecca got to her feet restlessly. How she longed to see her friend again, she rubbed longingly at her chest. Roseline laughed again.
‘I’m so high on love, dearie. I want you to get drunk on it again. By the way, have you heard anything from that snake husband of yours?’ Roseline’s voice changed abruptly. Rebecca sighed audibly.
‘No, I have not. I wish to serve him a divorce letter. I want to be free from him totally and completely. I want to live my life without feeling guilty. I have paid enough for this one mistake I made.’ She rubbed her aching forehead.
‘Yes, you will be free because I know where the idiot is located in Houston. I will send you the address as soon as I end this call.’ Roseline’s heart soared with joy.
‘Roseline Smith, you are suddenly filled with secrets. Will you tell me what is going on or I have to force it out of your throat?’ Rebecca threatened half-heartedly.
‘I want you to come here and beat me, Becky. I miss you. I want to see you again. You will be fine.’ Roseline whispered solemnly. Rebecca’s throat ached with tears.
‘Aunt Rose, Alex is here to see you.’ She heard Caitlin’s voice in the background.
‘Say hi to Alex for me. I will talk to you later. I love you, girl.’ Rebecca kissed the air with a smile.
‘Love you right back. Later.’ Roseline went off the phone.
Rebecca sat down and stared into space with a silly grin on her face.
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